Why is it a mistake to build the fire under the spruce tree in "To Build a Fire"?
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It is a mistake to build the fire under the tree because the heat of the fire will melt the snow on the tree and then the resulting water wil extinguish the fire.
Strangely, there are times where it would be a really good idea to build a fire under a tree. If you are trying to escape detection and want something to try and dissipate the smoke and prevent people from far away finding your fire, it can be a good idea. It can also act as a shelter from rain if you are lighting a fire in the rain.
The problem is that the main character in the story is lighting a fire under a spruce tree that is absolutely drenched and hanging with snow. When some of it melts, you are creating rain or even bringing down a lot of snow onto your fire, in this case leading to the man's death.
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